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UNDER THE COMPANY]
407
INDIA

river to Sutanati, the site of the modern Calcutta. At this place, about 70 m. from the sea and accessible at high tide to heavily armed ships, the stream had scooped for itself a long deep pool, now Calcutta harbour, while the position was well chosen to make a stand against the Bengal viceroy. On the 20th of December 1686 Charnock first settled at Calcutta, but in the following February Shaista Khan despatched an army against him, and he was forced to drop farther down the river to Hijili. In June Charnock was obliged to make an honourable capitulation, and returned to Ulubaria, 16 m. below Calcutta, thence moving in September to Calcutta for the second time. On the 8th of November 1688 Captain Heath arrived with orders from England, and took away Charnock against his will; but after peace was restored between the Mogul emperor and the company in February 1690, Charnock returned to Calcutta for the third and last time on the 24th of August of that year. It was thus by his courage and persistence that the modern capital of India was eventually founded. As the result of the war with the Mogul empire, which lasted from 1686 to 1690, the company perceived that a land war was beyond their strength, but their sea-power could obtain them terms by blockading the customs ports and threatening the pilgrim route to Mecca. From this time onwards they saw that they could no longer trust to defenceless factories. During this first period of their dealings with India the aims of the British were purely those of traders, without any aspirations to military power or territorial aggrandizement; but in the period that followed, the gradual decay of the Mogul empire from within, and the consequent anarchy, forced the English to take up arms in their own defence, and triumphing over one enemy after another they found themselves at last in the place of the Moguls.

India under the Company.

The political history of the British in India begins in the 18th century with the French wars in the Carnatic. The British at Fort St George and the French at Pondicherry for many years traded side by side without either active rivalry or territorial ambition. The British, especially, appear to have been submissive to the native powers at Madras no less than in Bengal. They paid their annual rent of 1200 pagodas (say £500) to the deputies of the Mogul empire when Aurangzeb annexed the south, and on two several occasions bought off a besieging army with a heavy bribe.

On the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the whole of southern India became practically independent of Delhi. In the Deccan proper, the Nizam-ul-Mulk founded an independent dynasty, with Hyderabad for its capital, which exercised a nominal sovereignty over the entire south. The Carnatic, or the lowland tract between the central plateau and the eastern sea, was ruled by a deputy of the nizam, known as the nawab of Arcot, who in his turn asserted claims to hereditary sovereignty. Farther south, Trichinopoly was the capital of a Hindu raja, and Tanjore formed another Hindu kingdom under a degenerate descendant of the line of Sivaji. Inland, Mysore was gradually growing into a third Hindu state, while everywhere local chieftains, called palegars or naiks, were in semi-independent possession of citadels or hill-forts.

In that condition of affairs the flame of war was kindled between the British and the French in Europe in 1745. Dupleix was at that time governor of Pondicherry and Clive was a young writer at Madras. A British fleet first French and British wars. appeared on the Coromandel coast, but Dupleix by a judicious present induced the nawab of Arcot to interpose and prevent hostilities. In 1746 a French squadron arrived, under the command of La Bourdonnais. Madras surrendered almost without a blow, and the only settlement left to the British was Fort St David, a few miles south of Pondicherry, where Clive and a few other fugitives sought shelter. The nawab, faithful to his policy of impartiality, marched with 10,000 men to drive the French out of Madras, but he was signally defeated by a French force of only four hundred men and two guns. In 1748 a British fleet arrived under Admiral Boscawen and attempted the siege of Pondicherry, while a land force co-operated under Major Stringer Lawrence, whose name afterwards became associated with that of Clive. The French successfully repulsed all attacks, and at last peace was restored, by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which gave back Madras to the British (1748).

The first war with the French was merely an incident in the greater contest in Europe. The second war had its origin in Indian politics, while England and France were at peace. The easy success of the French arms had Clive. inspired Dupleix with the ambition of founding a French empire in India, under the shadow of the existing Mahommedan powers. Disputed successions at Hyderabad and at Arcot supplied his opportunity. On both thrones he placed nominees of his own, and for a short time posed as the supreme arbiter of the entire south. In boldness of conception, and in knowledge of Oriental diplomacy, Dupleix has had probably no rival. But he was no soldier, and he was destined in that sphere to encounter the “heaven-born genius” of Clive. For the British of Madras, under the instinct of self-preservation, were compelled to maintain the cause of another candidate to the throne of Arcot in opposition to the nominee of Dupleix. This candidate was Mahommed Ali, afterwards known in history as Wala-jah. The war that then ensued between the French and British, each with their native allies, has been exhaustively described in the pages of Orme. The one incident that stands out conspicuously is the capture and subsequent defence of Arcot by Clive in 1751. This heroic feat, even more than the battle of Plassey, established the reputation of the British for valour throughout India. Shortly afterwards Clive returned to England in ill-health, but the war continued fitfully for many years. On the whole, British Influence predominated in the Carnatic, and their candidate, Mahommed Ali, maintained his position at Arcot. But the French were no less supreme in the Deccan, whence they were able to take possession of the coast tract called “the Northern Circars.” The final struggle was postponed until 1760, when Colonel (afterwards Sir Eyre) Coote won the decisive victory of Wandiwash over the French general Lally, and proceeded to invest Pondicherry, which was starved into capitulation in January 1761. A few months later the hill-fortress of Gingee (Chenji) also surrendered. In the words of Orme, “That day terminated the long hostilities between the two rival European powers in Coromandel, and left not a single ensign of the French nation avowed by the authority of its Government in any part of India.”

Meanwhile the interest of history shifts with Clive to Bengal.

At the time of Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 the nawab or governor of Bengal was Murshid Kuli Khan, known also as Jafar Khan. By birth a Brahman, and brought up as a slave in Persia, he united the administrative Black Hole of Calcutta. ability of a Hindu to the fanaticism of a renegade. Hitherto the capital of Bengal had been at Dacca on the eastern frontier of the empire, whence the piratical attacks of the Portuguese and of the Arakanese or Mughs could be most easily checked. Murshid Kuli Khan transferred his residence to Murshidabad, in the neighbourhood of Cossimbazar, the river port of all the Ganges trade. The British, the French and the Dutch had each factories at Cossimbazar, as well as at Dacca, Patna and Malda. But Calcutta was the headquarters of the British, Chandernagore of the French, and Chinsura of the Dutch, all three towns being situated close to each other in the lower reaches of the Hugli, where the river is navigable for large ships. Murshid Kuli Khan ruled over Bengal prosperously for twenty-one years, and left his power to a son-in-law and a grandson. The hereditary succession was broken in 1740 by Ali Vardi Khan, who was the last of the great nawabs of Bengal. In his days the Mahratta horsemen began to ravage the country, and the British at Calcutta obtained permission to erect an earth-work, which is known to the present day as the Mahratta ditch. Ali Vardi Khan died in 1756, and was succeeded by his grandson, Suraj-ud-Dowlah, a youth of only

nineteen years, whose ungovernable temper led to a rupture